What's a writer to do when there are so many shiny, new ideas beckoning? Especially when motivation for the current project that I'm working on has waned, and any distraction is welcome? Here's what I do, with varying degrees of success.
- Finish the current project: As tempting as it is to take a break from the manuscript I'm working on to start a new story that seems better at the time, I force myself to finish the current story or at least set a deadline when it has to be done. I use the prospect of working on the new idea as an incentive for me to finish the current one. The other reason why it's important for me to stay the course is that a story doesn't count for anything unless it's done. An author could have half-written manuscripts for ten stories that are great, but until they're done and published, readers won't know about them.
- Set aside the new idea for it to age: Sometimes a story idea gets better with time, and sometimes it spoils if left alone. I can't count the number of times when I thought an idea was The Next Great Thing (TM) when I first had it, but when I revisited it months (or years) later, it sounded lame. The opposite can happen too. I've had ideas that I thought were just OK, but upon later inspection, I discovered that it held much more potential than I previously imagined.
- Incorporate an idea into the current story: It's happened before where I was flipping through my notebook of ideas while working on a story, and an idea for another story sounded like it could make a good subplot for my current WIP or trigger a similar idea that I could incorporate.